Maple Blues Pianist of the Year award nominated Jenie Thai will bring her musical talents to Tamworth’s Abbott Hall on Feb. 9, the latest award-winning artist to play the Tamworth Erinsville Community Development Committee (TECDC) concert series.
While she struggles to peg herself into a single genre, she best describes herself as a mix of roots, blues, rhythm and blues and soul.
She’s currently touring in support of her third album, Night on Fire, which will make up a good portion of her set list next month in Tamworth, where she’ll be joined on stage with accompanying musicians. She’ll also mix in a few never before heard songs and covers.
“I try to make it a point of just settling down to write through habit,” said Thai when asked where she finds inspiration for her lyrics. “When I’m doing that I’ll just start writing something simple, maybe something I did that day or I read in a book and it made me think of a whole new topic. Or a line I heard somebody say and I try to expand around that.”
“(Thursday) night I wrote a new song,” she said, while on the phone in her Toronto rehearsal studio. “I was sitting down and I just had this line and this melody that was so beautiful and I just expanded on it so at the end I had a whole new song.”
She says her latest release was heavily influenced by the rhythm and blues and soul of the 1960s and ‘70s with a unique sound complete with horns and back up singers.
“There’s a couple of curveballs on there,” she said of the record. “There’s a ballad that I have called Send Your Angels Down that I just wrote when I was in a really depressed, dark space. Each song has its own personality but collective they all just make sense together.”
She’s also gained plenty of accolades for her piano playing, including the Maple Blues Pianist of the Year nomination as well as Female Artist of the Year from the Edmonton Music Awards and semifinalist in the Memphis International Blues Challenge.
“I got this text message from a friend that said ‘congrats’ and I was confused,” she recalled of when she first found out she had been nominated for the Maple Blues Pianist of the Year. “Then I looked it up o the website and I was thrilled. I can think of dozens and dozens of insanely good blues piano players from Canada and the blues committee picked me as one of them. The people I’m nominated with, I’m in crazy good company. It makes you feel encouraged because the blues community has embraced me.”
Thai has travelled the world throughout her music career, playing venues of all shapes and sizes, including Toronto’s Massey Hall. Still she says there’s nothing quite like the intimate setting like that of what she’ll play in Tamworth.
“The smaller theatres, people are really listening,” she said. “It can be quite intense.”
Tickets for her show are $35 and available by calling 613-379-2808. Thai is the latest in the TECDC series which will also include Jenn Grant on April 6 and former Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page.